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Facebook Adds Gift Card Discovery Tool, Service Impact Listings to Help Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

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Facebook is rolling out some new measures to assist businesses dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 shutdowns, including more specific detail on its $100 million small business grant program, and new tools that will enable people to support local providers.

First off, on grants – last month, Facebook announced a $100 million grants program with the aim of assisting 30,000 SMBs in 30 nations. Facebook has now provided more detail on how the grants program will work – as per Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg:

“In the US, we are committing $40 million to support 10,000 small businesses in 34 locations where our employees live and work. Those local businesses can go to facebook.com/grantsforbusiness to see the eligibility for applications, which will start in the US next week.”

Facebook is working with small business support platform Ureeka to facilitate the grants in the US, while the remaining $60 million will be allocated via the next stage of the program, which is yet to be announced.

In addition to the grants, Facebook is also rolling out some new tools to help impacted SMBs connect with their customers via Facebook.  

The main addition is a new gift cards listing, where people will be able to find digital gift cards for their favorite local restaurants and businesses.

Facebook gift cards listing

As you can see here, the new gift card registry will be available via special News Feed prompts, while users will also be able to access the listing via the function menu.

The process will make it easier for people to show their support for impacted stores by buying gift cards, even if the store itself is unable to open. That could help to prop these businesses up in the weeks ahead, as they push to meet financial obligations as a result of lost business.

The gift card registry is being rolled out to selected users in the US from today, and will be available broadly across the US within the coming weeks. Facebook notes that Instagram is also working on a similar registry, which was spotted in testing by reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong last week.

Instagram gift cards

Businesses who want to register for the gift card registry, and who are in the regions where it’s being made available, can sign up for the program här.

In addition to this, Facebook is also adding a new option that will enable business owners to create personal fundraisers on Facebook, in order to call on their customers for support.

Facebook business fundraisers

The option will provide another way for businesses looking to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 shutdowns to seek support from their local communities. 

And finally, Facebook is also adding some new Page options which will enable impacted businesses to list temporary changes to their operations as a result of COVID-19.

Facebook business Page changes

As explained by Facebook:

Businesses that have changed how they operate, like fitness studios offering virtual classes or restaurants offering delivery instead of dine-in service, can easily indicate those changes to customers. Businesses that are subject to closures can share that they are temporarily closed.”

Any changes you make will be reflected on your business Page, in Page previews when people come across them in the app, in search results, and in curated lists of local resources on the platform.

Facebook temporary changes

The annotations will make it easier for users to quickly understand whether you’re open for business – and what services you’re able to provide – or to learn that your business is temporarily halted because of COVID-19 (but will return when possible). 

“Businesses can access this feature by going to Page Settings > Page Info > Hours > Select “Temporary Service Changes”. There, they can either indicate that a location is “Temporarily Closed”, or select from multiple options under “Open with Service Changes”, like:

  • Online Services
  • Delivery
  • Pickup
  • Other Changes

Businesses that choose “Other Changes” are encouraged to post about special hours for the elderly, access to gift card purchases or similar options.”

These are some good additions, which will provide assistance for the many businesses that have been adversely impacted by COVID-19. The current global shutdowns are set to have a huge economic impact, and while many businesses are simply unable to operate, some are still finding ways to push ahead, and keep their revenue moving despite the conditions.

The more we can support these businesses, the better – and with gift cards, we can also support those that are losing out entirely because of the enforced closures. These new tools will enable people to contribute to those in their local community, and help to minimize the financial hurt that many will be feeling in the months ahead.

These are important additions, and it’s good to see Facebook continually working to find ways to support businesses in need. 

Socialmediatoday.com

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Five Ways To Make Your Startup Stand Out From The Competition

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Five Ways To Make Your Startup Stand Out From The Competition

Making your business stand out from others in a crowded marketplace is key to its success. High-quality products and services, a smart pricing strategy, and effective marketing are just the basics. The most successful entrepreneurs have a few extra tricks that separate their business from the rest of the pack.

Tell a strong story

Businesses need to do two things to succeed; be relevant and distinctive. As Steven Hess, founding partner at WhiteCap, explains, doing one without the other will lead to failure. “Being relevant on its own leads to a focus on price and an inevitable sublimation into the sea of sameness, and customers will not look for you,” he says. “Being distinctive without solving a problem leads to gimmickry and longer-term weakness. You have to do both, and one way of uniting the two is with a strong story.”

This could focus on the founder’s story, what led them to set out on their business journey, how they identified the problem they are solving, and how they are solving it uniquely. Stories can also be drawn from customers; how are they using your products or services? What problem does it solve for them?

“You also need to look at how your competitors are presenting themselves and then present yourself in the opposite way,” says Hess. “This will feel uncomfortable, and most businesses fail at this point. Why do ads for cars, financial services, estate agents, etc., look the same? It’s because most of us don’t want to stand out. We’re afraid to fail and be seen to fail. But if we are not being seen, being distinctive and solving a real problem, we’ve already failed.”

Focus your messaging on customer needs

A company’s messaging has to be focused on its potential customer’s biggest wants and needs. It should clarify what people will get if they buy from you, what transformation they will see, and how they will feel afterward. “Most importantly, it should communicate what people will miss out on if they don’t buy from your startup,” says business growth consultant Charlie Day. “When you shift your messaging from simply trying to grow a business and make money to focusing on your customer’s biggest wants and needs, the sales and growth will come, and it will set you apart from others.”

Target an underrepresented audience

This can be a powerful way for startups to stand out. “By focusing on a group that larger companies often overlook, they can differentiate themselves and appeal to a unique and untapped market,” says Vladislav Podolyako, founder and CEO of Folderly. “And by providing solutions to the specific needs and challenges of this audience, startups can establish a strong reputation and build a loyal customer base.”

For example, a fitness startup targeting older adults can stand out by offering specialized classes, products, or resources. By providing solutions to the physical limitations of older adults, the startup can differentiate itself from other companies, address the unique fitness challenges faced by older adults, and build a loyal customer base.

However, as Podolyako points out, this strategy must be carefully thought out. He says: “The startup may be associated with an older audience only, so you should work with PR agencies to get the positioning right and potentially think about creating a sub-brand.”

Differentiate your social media strategy

A unique voice and communication style will make you stand out on social media. However, it’s not just what you say but what you do that makes the difference. “If everyone is offering ‘how to’ tips on LinkedIn, create some short form behind-the-scenes videos. If everyone is doing special offers on Facebook, publish some tip-based stories,” says Catherine Warrilow, managing director of Daysout.com. “Make yourself accessible for customer support on the social media channels used by your audience, for example, via What’s App or Messenger.”

Respond promptly to customer calls

Making it easy for customers to contact you and get a response is vital for customer engagement and retention. Yet, businesses are surprisingly poor at answering their phones, listing phone numbers on their websites, and responding to voicemails. It’s a massive turn-off for customers, as a survey by global communications company Moneypenny revealed, with unanswered phone calls topping the list of consumer gripes, cited by 43% of respondents, followed by annoying hold music (35%).

Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny, says: “Customers use the phone when they have an urgent or sensitive issue to discuss, so companies cannot afford to provide a poor call experience; business will be taken elsewhere. By mastering the art of call handling, businesses can keep their customers happy and loyal and boost the bottom line in the process.”

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Twitter Experiments with Reply Filters, Timeline Controls, and the Capacity to Search Your Tweet Likes

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Twitter Experiments with Reply Filters, Timeline Controls, and the Capacity to Search Your Tweet Likes

Amid the various large-scale changes at Twitter, the platform is also working on some smaller tweaks and updates, which may or may not ever get released, but could provide valuable functionality for many users.

First off, Twitter’s testing the ability to search through your Likes, so you can find out who, specifically, has liked your tweets.

That could help you glean more context when reaching out to someone, or just another way to understand who’s responding to your tweets.

And it could be particularly valuable as a research tool for marketers in understanding their audience and who they’re reaching with their tweets.

Twitter’s also testing a new way to filter your replies, which could be handy if you get a lot of responses to a tweet.

Tweet reply sorting

I mean, I’m not sure how many people are getting so many replies to their tweets that they need a filtering option, but for those that are, this could be a simple way to ensure you’re staying up on the most relevant responses and responders, to better manage your engagement.

Finally, Twitter’s also experimenting with new timeline settings, which would provide more control over your timeline and pinned lists.

Twitter timeline controls

Note also, in the middle screen, that Twitter’s developing an option that would enable you to hide your tweet view counts, which would provide another way to manage your activity in the app.

As noted, all of these are in test mode, with Twitter engineer Andrea Conway posting them for public opinion, before exploring further development. But they could be handy, and while they’re not game-changers as such (which may mean they get less priority), smaller tweaks and updates like this could be significant for certain users, and could make it easier to manage your tweet activity.

We’ll keep you updated on any progress.



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Fed-up accountant 'shocked and disappointed' after his Facebook account is taken down again

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Fed-up accountant 'shocked and disappointed' after his Facebook account is taken down again

A fed-up accountant has spoken of his “disappointment” after his Facebook page was taken down AGAIN. Last July, we told how Suleiman Krayem feared …

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